Monday, February 20, 2012

Farm Equipment Show

The best way to attend a big equipment show when you're actually wanting to see things is the way that almost nobody chooses....alone. A couple of Fridays ago Melissa gave me the day off and I set out for my once a decade trip to Louisville to visit the National Farm Machinery Show.

Oh the things I saw ! It was like taking a little boy to a big candy store and telling him that he had the whole day to look around and sample things.

It was a long day; I left the house about 6 am Central time and I arrived at the show about three hours later (but on Eastern actually four hours by the clock) which isn't bad given that Louisville is 230 miles to the northeast of us. In spite of going to the show alone the world of production agriculture is small enough that I didn't stay that way for more than a few minutes at a stretch. Several times an hour I would literally bump into someone I knew and if I had the time I'm quite sure I could have killed several days doing nothing more than visiting. One of my Aggie classmates from Ontario knew I was coming to the show that day and she brought me a couple types of Canadian candy that are unavailable in the US, bless her heart.

The primary reason for attending the show this year was to look at Brillion type seed drills. As farm equipment goes, these things are extremely simple, durable and very easy to maintain. If you know what a cultipacker is, think about mounting a grass box on top of it and you pretty much have a Brillion drill. Because I'm planting into silt loam, I would really like to add a coulter cart and/or a set of rolling harrows on a cart ahead of the drill to scarify the soil a bit first. I don't want a full no-till rig and I sure don't want to tear up my established grass....think minimum till and you'd be getting close. Although I've never seen a rig set up exactly this way I knew that all the manufacturers would have reps on hand and I correctly figured they could advise me on how well this might work as well as what sort of coulter caddy's (there are legions of different kinds) I might want to add ahead of the drill.

It's easy to put a set of blinders on and forget that there is a whole big world out there and I've found this is at least as true in business as it is in one's personal life. In both cases it's important to take the time to reconnect, recharge and perhaps most importantly to constantly re-open your mind to new ideas. Visiting with folks, looking at new equipment and attending seminars with people doing innovative things from all over North America is an excellent way to do this. Now that I'm home here farming full time I might have to figure out how to attend these sorts of events on a more regular basis.

[Boy spell check sure didn't like all the agricultural terms in this post. The whole thing turned into a sea of yellow. I think the best one was that the sole offering it gave me for "cultipacker" was Goldberg.] Tee Hee.


Bif said...

I would think it would go with "cupcake"... that's what I first thought of!

Glad you enjoyed the show. I have only the vaguest of ideas on what you were talking about. I think that is how some people look at me when I talk about horses or literature.

So, uh, sounds like you had fun! And got candy! That is the extent of my expertise ;-)

Jason said...

Part of the beauty of a post like this is that it's going to keep the non-farm folk busy googling things for awhile to see whether I actually know what I'm talking about or whether I'm blowing smoke out my keester !

I'll look forward to a report on what you learned. ;)

Jack said...

I'm not sure that a Brillion is going to give you what you want if you are not planting into a tilled seed bed. A no-till drill would do a better job of planting into existing sod.

Jason said...

Hi Jack !

Thanks for the thoughts...I was hoping you'd choose to weigh in on this.

I've used a no till drill to reseed cool season grasses for the past several years. No till drills would be my choice to overseed Ontario pastures for a long list of reasons but too often they don't work very well in the heavier silty soils we have down here.

When these soil type are planted when it ought to be it's nearly impossible to avoid planting the grass too deep if you engage the coulters at all with a no till drill. There's just too much down pressure. The other problem is smearing along the coulter face. If you wait for these soils to dry up enough to take the level of down pressure most no till drills provide you run a real good chance of your grass not sprouting due to high soil temperatures combined with moisture deficits.

Warm season grasses seeded in April work very well with a no till drill as do cool season grasses seeded into dry, warm soils in late October or early November. The problem with seeding in the fall is that it is by far the driest time of year down here.

I've had my best consistent luck spring seeding by broadcast spreading ahead of either a cultipacker or a chain harrow any time between Valentine's Day and early March, believe it or not.

Any thoughts on this would be very welcome.

RuckusButt said...

I have nothing useful to add other than "cool," cause I love farm speak even if I don't really know exactly what you're talking about. I just wish I did. And also I wonder what kind of candy it was :)

Off to google now...

Jason said...

I got Smarties and Cadbury Caramilk. :)

I should mention that the other problem with seeding cool season grasses in the fall is that our pastures look great then. It's winter time when the horses muck them up and I have to fix them NOW before it gets hot ! :)

Bif said...

I know all the words you are using are mostly English, but... yeah, not googling. Sorry.


Jack said...

Jason, have you thought about a regular seed drill at this time of year and spout the grass seed into the slot (or into the grain tubes) If a no-till drill has too much down pressure then a regular drill running in the existing sod might be an option.
I think it might be hard to find anything better than broadcasting and then using the cultipaker or a set of chain harrows.
I am spending the next 2 days with Dr Garry Lacefield from UofKentucky, I'll ask him for his thoughts.

Jason said...


Please do ask him for his thoughts with many thanks from me !

I hadn't thought about using a conventional drill but it sure makes nine kinds of sense now that I've thought about it some.

The nice part is that conventional grain drills are cheap as dirt which is nice!